When I was in the fourth grade I made up my mind that I was going to be a disk jockey when I grew up. I had a dream of working by myself in a radio station with fat headphones on my ears and a big silver microphone in front of my mouth. I wanted to talk and make people laugh – and all from the comfort of an insulated studio where nobody could see me. My dad got me a plastic, red cassette tape recorder for Christmas that year and I spent the next three years doing shows in my basement, editing-in fake interviews between me and the various guests on my show, all of whom were played by me with an array of accents, and recording them on stacks of cassettes. If you are interested in knowing, I did have an on-air name that I gave myself: Drake Hastings. Now I can clearly see that even back then the desire to verbally communicate was strong within me… but my aim was just a little off. By the way, the forum I envisioned for my life’s purpose was also off target. God didn’t plan for me to sit in a studio alone, disconnected from others. He did not call me to an isolated monologue. He ultimately ended up giving me the treasure of dialogue, and He has blessed me to share life with others. Drake has long since been retired, but I find that I still have to shun some of his Lone Ranger traits that want to rise up within me forty years later. Sometimes I still am tempted to settle into old tendencies and do life alone as a monologue.
“But Moses said to the people of Gad and to the people of Reuben, “Shall your brothers go to the war while you sit here? Why will you discourage the heart of the people of Israel from going over into the land that the Lord has given them?” – Numbers 32:6-7
Drake Hastings was not the first or last person who preferred to do life all alone. In ancient Israel there were two tribes among the twelve who desired permission from Moses to hang out on the east side of the Jordan River while their brethren went forward into the fullness of the Promised Land. The tribes of Gad & Reuben found a comfortable, safe place and decided that it would be good to set up camp for themselves while their brothers went forth to war. The land they desired was plush, accommodating and, most importantly, battle-free. No wars, no risk, no time away from the good life. So strong was their desire for comfort and safety that they were willing to forego the fuller promises of the land that awaited them a little further on. Like many, they found the first place that suited their tastes and sought approval in settling down.
Moses declined their request for two main reasons: 1) it was unthinkable that Rueben & Gad would embrace personal ease while their brothers risked it all and 2) their potential settling-too-soon would set a bad example to the others, possibly discouraging them from fulfilling God’s plan for Israel to go an inherit the promised territory. Permission denied! They would not be allowed to watch the war on their primitive flat-screens from the comfort of their ancient recliners.
I suppose we all have a little of Drake, Gad and Reuben in us. If I am being honest, I discern that this tendency seems to be growing these days. A sense of community is being replaced with an assertion and protection of individuality. In our neighborhoods, towns, schools and churches there is the assumption that we should be left alone, and we are more than willing to leave others alone. Like Chauncey Gardiner from 1979’s Being There… we like to watch. Like Reuben and Gad, we do not mind if others move forward and conquer the hills which await them, but we have found a cozy little vale with plenty of pastureland that is calling our names. We acknowledge that there is a cause, a bigger purpose and a calling upon us as believers, but we tend to allow for that to rest in the realm of theory rather than actuality. We do a little. We really do. But crossing the Jordan into the land of giants and fortresses is just not something we are up to attaching our names to. I am asking God to wash that kind of disposition out of my heart and off of my list of life-options. I am asking Him to keep some strong-spined Moseses in my life that challenge my attitude and actions. God has ordained that His children be pioneers but too many of us have become settlers. Will you join me in asking Him to help you fight this spirit of the age? Will you implore Him to work strongly in your life to make you distinct and to empower you to live differently than those who do not share in His life? I don’t want my journey to discourage others who might have otherwise advanced into the fullness of God-promised territory for them. I don’t want to waste my life in a secluded studio talking to a make-believe audience with whom my life never makes contact. Jesus didn’t holler instructions from Heaven. He invaded our planet to place before our eyes, ears and hands the very Person of God. He placed Himself to be with us, not just for us. He is moving this very day to trek with you into something greater. He is leading you to unexplored places in His land of promise. Your brothers and sisters are going there and He is inviting us to go with them…with Him. Will you go a little further, a little longer? I am finding that considering any lesser option leaves me feeling like an imaginary Drake Hasting hugging an unplugged microphone when God has destined me for something beyond the studio, beyond the monologue, beyond the norm.
These are days of adventure and risk, Christians. The war on us is not growing milder. The battle smoke thickens with each passing year, and we cannot afford to become addicted to our nesting. If you will get intentionally still and quiet, you will hear the King marshaling you to radicalize for His glory. He is searching for some Christian extremists who will make a dent in their generation through lavish love, off-the-charts sacrifice and time-warp-speed pursuit of His glory. Reuben and Gad, and Drake for that matter, serve as examples for us. Fire them before they band together to do a corporate takeover on your life.
Don’t settle where you are today. That’s where living stops.